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South Africans in Germany


Germany, with its robust economy, rich cultural heritage, and world-renowned education system, has become an increasingly attractive destination for professionals from around the globe.
For South Africans seeking to build a new life in Europe, the Chancenkarte, or “Opportunity Card,” offers a promising pathway

What is the Chancenkarte?

The Chancenkarte (Opportunity Card) is a points-based immigration system introduced by Germany to attract skilled workers from non-EU countries.
Modelled after the Canadian and Australian immigration systems, this card aims to fill gaps in the German labour market by offering opportunities to qualified professionals.
The Chancenkarte allows individuals to live in Germany while they search for a job, providing up to six months to secure employment.

Understanding the Opportunity Card

The card is designed to simplify the process for skilled workers to move to Germany, ensuring that the country can fill its critical labour gaps with qualified professionals.

As someone from outside the EU/EEA, you can obtain an opportunity card in two ways:

  • You have completed vocational or academic training successfully. The qualification must be recognized by the country where you obtained it and involves at least two years of vocational training. To bolster your visa application, you’ll need a positive assessment of this qualification, obtainable online through the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
  • Proof of language proficiency: You either have German language skills of at least level A1 as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or English language skills of at least level B2 (CEFR). 

Foreign Qualifications without recognition

  • You hold a foreign vocational qualification or a foreign university degree. These do not have to be officially recognised in Germany but the qualification must be recognized by the country where you obtained it and involves at least two years of vocational training. To bolster your visa application, you’ll need a positive assessment of this qualification, obtainable online through the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
  • You can demonstrate basic (level A1) German or good (level B2) English language skills
  •  A score of at least six points in the points system
  •  Secure financial means: blocked account with at least €1,027 per month (as of 2024) or Declaration of Commitment.

Recognised Skilled Worker

You are a skilled worker as defined in Section 18 of Germany’s Residence Act. This means 

In this case, there are no additional requirements to be met to obtain an opportunity card.


The points based system

The points system only pertains to you, if you cannot prove that you have a German qualification or that your foreign qualification is fully recognised.
To apply for an opportunity card visa, you must provide evidence of your formal qualifications and necessary language skills.
Points can be earned based on the following criteria:


If you’ve already applied for recognition of your foreign qualification and it’s deemed partially equivalent, you’ll earn four points. Even if you need to undergo compensatory measures to obtain a license for a regulated profession, you’ll still receive these four points.


You’ll earn points for German language skills above level A1 (CEFR): one point for A2, two points for B1, and three points for B2 or higher. Additionally, you’ll get an extra point for English skills at level C1 or above, or if you’re a native speaker.

Previous stays in Germany

Have you already lived in Germany? If you can prove that you have legally resided in Germany for at least six continuous months in the past five years, you will receive one point. This includes stays for study, language learning, or work. However, stays for tourism or visiting people do not count. You can submit copies of old passports, visas, and entry stamps as evidence.


Points are also awarded for professional experience related to your formal qualification gained after graduation. You will receive two points for at least two years of professional experience within the last five years. For at least five years of professional experience within the last seven years, you will receive three points.


You also earn points based on your age. If you are 35 or younger, you receive two points until the day you turn 35. Those between 35 and 40 are awarded one point.

Shortage occupation

If your formal qualification is in a shortage occupation, you’ll receive one point. To see which occupations are in high demand, check the List of Professions in Demand

Spouses or life partners

Are you married or in a partnership and looking to come to Germany with your partner using an opportunity card? If your partner already qualifies for an opportunity card, you will receive an additional point in the points system. With this advantage, your partner can also complete the self-check for the opportunity card.

Additional information

  • If you are seeking employment in a regulated profession, i.e. in healthcare, a professional practice permit (Berufsausübungserlaubnis) is mandatory. For more information on the recognition procedure, please see Recognition
  • Have you completed vocational training? If so, you must provide proof of possessing the German language skills required for the job you are seeking. Generally speaking, a minimum level of B1 in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is required.
  • You are able to prove that you can cover your costs of living since you are not able to enter into remunerated employment during this time. Proof of being able to cover living costs can be provided in the form of a blocked bank account or a Declaration of Commitment.

The Application Process

Applying for the Opportunity Card involves several steps:

  1. Self-Assessment: Prospective applicants can use online tools to estimate their points based on the criteria.
  2. Make an appointment at the German embassy for a Type D Visa
  3. Apply for the visa in your country of residence. Document Submission: Proof of qualifications, experience, and language skills must be provided.
  4. Verification and Approval: Applications are reviewed by German authorities to ensure authenticity and eligibility.
  5. Issuance of the Visa: Once approved, the Opportunity Card is issued, allowing entry and work in Germany.
  6. Enter Germany
  7. Register at the Bürgeramt (Local Town office)
  8. Apply for a residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners office)
This flyer from Make it in Germany is very informative.


Leagal basis

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